Which Cricut To Buy: A Clear Comparison Between Machines

Do you want to buy a Cricut machine, but not quite sure which one is the best?

You are not alone. Cricut sells several machines, and it’s not directly obvious which one you should buy.

So in this post, I’ll compare all the different Cricut machines, such that you can choose which Cricut is the best for you.

which cricut should I buy

Cricut machine types

Cricut released their newest model, the Cricut Joy, in late February 2020. So currently there are 3 different Cricut models available. These are:

  • Cricut Joy
  • Cricut Maker
  • Cricut Explore Air 2

Every model has its own pros and cons. So it’s important to know the differences before buying one.

Note that older models such as the Cricut Explore one, Cricut Explore Air 1, or the Cricut Expression aren’t for sale any more. So I won’t cover them in today’s post.

Cricut machine differences & similarities

Since all the models come from the same company, it’s not very surprising to see that there are some obvious similarities among them.

For example, all the models roughly work the same, they all come with identical software, and the controls and buttons look similar.

And they all can perform the same basic actions like cut, write and score.

So the most important difference between machines is the extra features they come with.

Some examples differences are:

  • Slow cutting vs fast cutting
  • Single vs double tool holder
  • The materials you can cut
  • Price

Cricut machine comparison chart

I’ll go into each model in detail. But if you want to quickly compare the specs of the different machines, you can take a look at the table below.

Cricut JoyCricut ExploreCricut Maker
Best forQuick and small projectsBasic DIY hobbiesHigh quality DIY projects
Materials it can cut50+100+300+
Max material width5.5 inch12 inch12 inch
Max material length20 feet24 inch24 inch
Wireless BluetoothYesYesYes
Print then cutNoYesYes
Mat-free cuttingYesNoNo
Available blades & tools249
MSRP$179.99$249.99$399.99
Amazon PriceClick For PriceClick For PriceClick For Price

Compatible Cricut blades and tools

If you want to know more specifically which Cricut machine is compatible with which blades and tools, you can take a look at the table below.

Cricut JoyCricut ExploreCricut Maker
Fine point bladexxx
Pen for drawing / writingxxx
Deep cut bladexx
Scoring toolxx
Rotary bladex
Debossing toolx
Engraving toolx
Perforation toolx
Knife bladex

What materials can a Cricut machine cut?

Which material your Cricut machine can cut depends mainly on the cutting force and the blades of your machine.

So let’s take a look at the most popular materials and which model can cut them.

Cricut JoyCricut ExploreCricut Maker
Adhesive vinylxxx
Iron on vinylxxx
Cardstock and paperxxx
Feltxxx
Cricut genuine leatherxx
Tooling / garment leatherx
Fabricx
Basswood / balsa woodx

For a full list of materials that each machine can cut, visit the official Cricut website by clicking here.

Cricut Joy

When I first saw the Cricut Joy, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it.

To be honest, I was expecting a machine that would be bigger, stronger, and even more versatile than their previously released Cricut Maker.

It seems that Cricut is trying to target newcomers and beginners with this new model, considering its small size and considerably lower price.

This makes sense, because the Cricut Maker can already cut pretty much anything, so why would you need even more power?

The Cricut Joy actually has a few neat features that you won’t find on any other Cricut machine.

Most noticeable is the fact that you won’t need to use a cutting mat any more. So you can cut vinyl up to 20 feet long all at once.

Secondly, the Cricut Joy also has a new Card Mat, which makes it super simple to make small cards for special events and occasions.

Although not the strongest or most versatile, the Cricut Joy can still cut over 50 different materials, including iron on vinyl, adhesive vinyl, and cardstock.

BEST FOR: beginners and first-time-buyers that don’t need all the extra features and occasionally want to work on fun and small projects.

Cricut Explore Air 2

Among the three Cricut machines the Explore Air 2 is the most popular model. It has all the tools and features that an average user might need and it can handle a wide range of materials.

Compared to the Cricut Joy, the Explore Air 2 is much bigger and as a result it can cut much wider and longer projects.

The Explore Air 2 might look pretty familiar to people that have the Explore Air 1 already. And to be honest, there haven’t been any major changes.

The only noticeable improvement is the cutting speed. The Explore Air 2 will cut most materials up to 2 times faster than its predecessor. If you use your Cricut for a small business this might save you a lot of time. But for most hobbyists you will hardly notice the difference.

BEST FOR: people that are looking to buy a reliable and affordable machine that can handle most DIY projects.

Cricut Maker

The Cricut Maker is the most powerful and versatile of all the Cricut machines.

Compared to the Explore Air 2, the Cricut Maker has double the cutting force and is compatible with double the blades/tools.

Note that some of these blades/tools need to be bough separately.

Thanks to this combination of high cutting force and flexible tools, the Cricut Maker can work with both delicate materials (like fabric) and thicker materials (such as balsa wood and leather).

The Maker comes with Cricut’s newly developed “adaptive tool system”. This allows it to use blades and tools that haven’t even been developed yet.

Considering that Cricut released 4 extra blades/tools mid 2019, I’m hopeful that there will be even more new releases in the upcoming year(s).

Overall, the Cricut Maker is the most powerful and versatile of all the Cricut machines, but you have to consider for yourself if these extra features are worth the price increase.

Moreover, if raw power is what you are looking for you might want to look at the Cameo 4, which has an even higher cutting force. For a direct comparison, read our article on Cameo 4 vs Cricut Maker.

BEST FOR: people looking for professional quality and/or want to work with materials that the other machines can’t handle.

Which Cricut is best for me?

Which Cricut machine is best for you depends on what you are looking for.

The Explore Air 2 offers great value for the money and probably the best option for most beginners. It has all the essential features and can handle most of the popular materials.

The Cricut Joy offers a cheaper alternative to the Explore Air 2. It can only cut small projects, is only compatible with the most basic materials, and will feel lacking to experienced users. Nevertheless, it can still be a good option if you are a beginner that wants to do DIY projects from time to time.

The Cricut Maker clearly wins in terms of performance and offers the highest cutting force, is compatible with all the blades/tools, and can cut over 300 materials. If you have the extra budget, it might be worth it to invest in this powerhouse.

If you want to start working with your new Cricut machine as soon as possible, you can order it from Amazon by clicking this link.